The old adage about spending a little to save a lot is never truer than when you invest in a remodeling project that will save you some time or spare you some hassle.
Here are nine home renovations that could make every day a little bit easier at your house:
1. Make room for more kitchen cabinets and closets. High on the list of every cook’s gripes is that there’s never enough room to store all of the gadgets and specialty items that make cooking quicker, easier and more fun. So the bread machine, the electric fry pan, the food processor, the juicer and the cake pop pan compete for space on the countertop or squeeze into already-stuffed cabinets. Take your pick.
Solution: Work with your contractor’s design team to find unused or poorly used space in the kitchen, where you can add a cabinet or two, a pantry closet or more shelving. Or, if your kitchen is next to a little-used dining room, consider removing the wall that separates them so you’ll have an extra-large eat-in kitchen with plenty of room for all of the storage space you need.
Tip: Ask for at least one extra-deep cabinet or pantry shelf that’s big enough to hold a wok, fry pan, gumbo pot or whatever oversized cooking equipment you own.
2. Create a work triangle. If people keep getting in your way while you’re trying to cook dinner or clean up afterward, chances are, your stove, refrigerator and sink are not logically organized into a work triangle that makes it easy to go from one to the other in very few steps. Ask your designer to show you how you could rearrange your kitchen work space so it “flows” better. It will save you steps, frustration and possibly a few bruises!
3. Keep the noise down. When one spouse turns in or wakes up way earlier than the other, the sleeping partner will appreciate few things more than a bathroom/closet/dressing area that’s far enough away from the bed to mute any noise that the early riser or night owl makes.
Solution: Add a second door to the master bathroom — one that opens into the hallway instead of into the bedroom — so the person using the room doesn’t have to walk through a bedroom to get to it. And consider enlarging the bathroom by combining it with the closet, so someone can get ready for the day without ever returning to the master bedroom.
No room to expand? Is there a seldom-used bedroom next to the master bedroom? Removing a couple of walls will let you combine your master bedroom, a smaller bedroom and the master bath into a suite that allows for more closet space and a bigger bathroom.
4. Don’t share the sink. Tame the morning rush to get dressed and out of the house on time by adding a second sink to your master bathroom. His-and-hers sinks give each partner a separate mirror and a bit of counter space to spread out on, with no need to take turns. Even better, it allows each of you your own “side,” where you can keep your makeup or shaving kit so in won’t be in your partner’s way.
5. Give the kids their own bathroom. When parents and kids share the same bathroom, nobody gets out of the house on time.
Solution: If you don’t have a second bathroom on the bedroom level of your house, put it at the top of your remodeling to-do list. Your morning routine will be 100 percent calmer once the adults stake out a child-free bathroom for themselves.
6. Enlarge your porch. If placing a couple of rocking chairs on your porch or patio makes it look overcrowded, enlarge that space. Building a big porch or patio is like adding a room onto your home. You can put a nice grill outdoors and plenty of seating so you can host family dinners and football Sundays there instead of squeezing everyone into your house.
Tip: Add a roof or some kind of sun-blocking cover so you can enjoy your outdoor room nearly year-round.
7. Move your washer and dryer. Your family generates most of its dirty laundry in bedrooms and bathrooms, not in the kitchen or in the foyer near the back door, where your washer and dryer are probably located.
Solution: Move the laundry room upstairs, or add a small, stackable washer/dryer combo unit to a spare bedroom or utility closet near the bedrooms. You’ll save so many trips to the laundry room that you probably won’t even mind washing clothes.
8. Add a closet/cubby near the home’s back entrance. People spend more time hunting for keys and shoes—usually when they’re rushing out the door—than almost anything else.
Solution: Build a place where everyone in your family deposits backpacks, jackets, shoes, keys and purses—no matter what. That way, you’ll always know where they are when you need them.
Tip: Have your contractor put in some electrical outlets so you can plug in phone and tablet chargers there. They’ll be charged and ready to go when you are.
9. Work in some extra work space. Every household has some kind of files for kids’ school records, bills, insurance policies and other important paperwork. Designate a space for that.
Solution: If you have a spare bedroom, build in some filing cabinets, shelves and drawers, where you can organize your papers without cluttering the kitchen or family room with them.
The room can double as a home office or sewing room, and you can keep the door closed and off-limits so you can’t leave your half-finished projects out in the open without worry about anyone seeing the mess.
Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, has been president of JEB Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting www.Jeb.net.